Wednesday 20 March 1996
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Chair / Présidente: Laughren, Floyd (Nickel Belt ND)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie ND)
*Bartolucci, Rick (Sudbury L)
*Crozier (Essex South / -Sud L)
*Ford, Douglas B. (Etobicoke-Humber PC)
*Fox, Gary (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings / Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud PC)
*Gravelle, Michael (Port Arthur L)
*Johnson, Bert (Perth PC)
*Kormos, Peter (Welland-Thorold ND)
Laughren, Floyd (Nickel Belt ND)
*Leadston, Gary L. (Kitchener-Wilmot PC)
*Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie ND)
*Newman, Dan (Scarborough Centre / -Centre PC)
*Preston, Peter L. (Brant-Haldimand PC)
*Ross, Lillian (Hamilton West / -Ouest PC)
*Wood, Bob (London South / -Sud PC)
*In attendance / présents
Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:
Churley, Marilyn (Riverdale ND) for Mr Laughren
Clerk / Greffière:
Staff / Personnel:
David Pond, research officer, Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 1003 in room 228.
Review of intended appointment, selected by third party: Duncan Sinclair, intended appointee as chair, Health Services Restructuring Commission.
The Vice-Chair (Mr Tony Martin): The first order of business this morning is to interview one Duncan G. Sinclair, intended appointee as member of the Health Services Restructuring Commission, invited to be in front of us by the New Democrat caucus. Would Mr Sinclair come to the table. Please make yourself comfortable. We're happy that you're here. I don't know if you want to start out by making a short statement or if you want us to move into questions from the various caucuses.
Dr Duncan Sinclair: If I may, I will just tell you a little bit about who I am, very briefly. You know my name. I'm currently a vice-principal for health sciences and dean of the faculty of medicine at Queen's University. I've been in that position some eight years. Previous to that, I was vice-principal for various responsibilities in the university, including its administration and its external affairs. Before that I was the director general of the Medical Research Council of Canada, and before that I was dean of the faculty of arts and science at Queen's. Before that I was an honest scientist doing what my colleagues refer to as real work as a physiologist.
Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): In the Toronto Star dated February 24 this year, Lisa Priest, a reporter, said that you are known for your intelligence and fairness and that you have a keen interest in medical research and in the health care system. Assuming that's a fair statement, what particular skill do you bring to the commission to accomplish the task of restructuring our hospital system?
Dr Sinclair: I won't venture a comment on intelligence, but I do believe I have a lot of experience in dealing with various aspects of the health care system, if it can be said to be a system. I bring to this work a degree of experience and a record of being able to consider difficult issues and try to resolve conflicting positions in a much smaller environment, I would grant, within a university. But if you know anything about universities, conflicting positions are held with considerable passion, usually, and I have a lot of experience and several scars I could show you that qualify me for continuing in this capacity.
Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): Dr Sinclair, obviously from your curriculum vitae you are most eminently qualified for this position. It gives me a certain comfort level to know that people of your stature are involved in the health care process in this province. It's a very comforting thought. With your very broad knowledge and experience in education -- I am very curious and most interested in knowing what you feel is the greatest inefficiency in health care today.
Dr Sinclair: That could provoke a very long answer, Mr Leadston, but I will try to be brief. You asked me what I think is the greatest potential or actual inefficiency in the system. As I said previously to Mr Johnson, my appreciation of the word "system" means that it's an organized, planned and smoothly coordinated execution of the functions of a variety of parts which together work, to use a metaphor, as an engineered system, a designed system.
One of the greatest inefficiencies at present is that we do not have a health services or a health care system in that sense. We have a very large number of sometimes collaborating, sometimes competing, sometimes mutually ignorant and other times very well informed of one another's activity, pieces of a system that if coordinated I believe could do two things.
One is to provide as good or I think better quality services to the citizenry, not only health services today but services that will be supported by both education and research so that those services will be better tomorrow. Those are products of the system, if you will, that could be improved.
The second major thing that I think can be accomplished, in fact I'm sure can be accomplished, is that we could have improved services with much lower cost, within the ability of the province's taxpayers to pay for those services.
If the commission can contribute to achievement of those two ends, then it will have discharged its mandate.
Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): I don't even know why we're asking you these questions, with the background that we have on you because of your expertise in many fields, but this is our procedure and a routine that we have to do. I understand that you will be retiring in June, and this is my question: Why did you put your name forward for this position?
Dr Sinclair: First, thank you for the compliment; I very much appreciate it. My plan was to retire in June, and frankly, this is not what I had in mind as my retirement project. I did not put my name forward. I was asked if I would consider taking this position. After considerable consideration and discussion with, frankly, a rather reluctant spouse, I have agreed. I will tell you honestly the reasons I have agreed. There are several.
I believe very firmly in the responsibility of citizens who have the ability -- and that's for you to judge -- but also have the opportunity to provide public service, to do so. I have spent most of my life in Ontario, I have been privileged to be part of public sector activities all my life and I think I have something I can now pay back in retirement.
The second principal reason is that I am embarrassed, in that we have all sentenced our children and grandchildren to carry a very heavy burden of repairing a debt that we built up during the best economic times that Canada has known since the Second World War. If I can do my piece so that the health services system that's inherited by my grandchildren at least will not be making the problem worse, as it is at present, I will have met my responsibilities both as a citizen and as a grandfather.
Mr Ford: That's excellent, because I completely understand where you're coming from.
Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): Dr Sinclair, thanks very much for coming today. The former government closed the equivalent of 30 hospitals, closing 6,700 acute care beds during its last five years. But since no hospital was actually ever closed, it left in many ways an inefficient and difficult-to-manage hospital sector. Had you been chairperson of restructuring, how do you think you would have handled this inefficiency, and do you really think that's an inefficient way of looking at the health care system?
Dr Sinclair: That's difficult to answer, because of course hindsight is always very easy to exercise. There's no doubt that as the system of hospitals, such as it is, has been downsized through the closure of beds, that has resulted, as a consequence of there being the same number of operating institutions in the province, in an increase in the cost of managing the plant relative to the cost of delivering services. It's a simple engineering principle. Their economies of scale are very real.
Your question is, had the commission existed previously, how would I, as chair of the commission, have advised differently? Frankly, I believe that it's necessary for the commission to examine very carefully the voluminous literature that does exist, from Canadian experience and from experience that's comparable to Canadian experience, and establish some firm guidelines of what economies of scale mean in the hospital "business," if I may. That's not a simple answer, because the hospital business is a very varied business, depending upon whether that hospital is a very remote, small institution or one of the big institutions in downtown Toronto. They have different responsibilities and the economy-of-scale calculation will differ for those categories.
None the less, the data do exist, and my clear understanding is -- it's more than an impression -- that we will have to apply those data such that we can increase the deliverable cost, ie, at the workface of providing service, and diminish the support costs that are associated with the administration and operation of separate buildings. So I would suspect there will be fewer institutions -- there should be fewer institutions -- in the interests of economy and in the interests of provision of better service. The tradeoff, of course, is the desire to provide service as close to home as possible. I believe it will be very probable that the commission will have to debate very hard the definition of what "as possible" really means in current economic and other circumstances.
The Vice-Chair: Your time is up and we'll have to move on to the Liberal caucus.
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Dr Sinclair, good morning. Welcome. I will echo the thoughts of some others that you come eminently prepared with the experience that will be required. Certainly, that's not in question, but it does give us the opportunity to get some sense of where you see this restructuring commission going. In that vein, Minister Wilson emphasized that the commission's work will not supplant the work of district health councils but that, even according to the terms of reference, you will take that into consideration. I'd like to get your viewpoint on that because if these district health councils go to all this work, they understand the local needs, they bring in various stakeholders in the community, where then do you see the commission's role vis-à-vis approving that decision or not approving it? Why the commission if we have district health councils working on this problem?
Dr Sinclair: Mr Crozier, yours is a very good question that I can only answer for myself, because of course the commission has not yet met. The commission has a life of four years and it's clearly stated in the legislation that we should accomplish our task as quickly as possible and certainly, in any case, in less than four years. It would be quite ridiculous for the commission to start over. Much of the work that has been done over now more than four years by some of the district health councils interacting with the institutions and people of the various regions of the province, and interacting also with officials of the Ministry of Health -- for example, many of those district health council reports have been the result of an iterative process back and forth between the minister, the DHCs, the institutions, the community stakeholders, many times. Frankly, to disregard that work would be just plain dumb. Why would we want to do that?
My expectation is that the commission will take as the platform on which it begins its work that completed work with the district health councils. I do not expect that the commission will interact very directly with DHCs. Rather, it will interact more with the ministry because, of course, the DHCs report to the minister, and there's no question that they would not continue to do so. So the expectation is that the DHCs will continue to work with the ministry, as they do now. When they both believe that their report is an adequate platform from which the commission can launch its work, that work will be passed to the commission. We then will do an analysis, which we would have to do for fiduciary reasons if for none other, to make sure that platform does not have holes in it; either things that have not been considered or things that have been considered inadequately, the holes being either data and information or less easily quantified holes.
As you know, when you go to your constituency and ask people about something, informed people will be able to tell you whether that makes sense or doesn't. If something that is recommended in one of these platforms from the DHCs is considered locally not to make sense, I would regard that to be a hole and we have to find out why, whether for cultural, historical or whatever reasons. So we'll do an analysis and identify the soundness of the platform and then proceed to decisions in respect of hospitals on the basis of that, because that's within our mandate, or to recommendations on other aspects of the health care system, again within our mandate.
Mr Crozier: You have my best wishes, sir, because you and the commission I think are going to be in a difficult position sometimes when the district health council does not agree with you, and you're going to be between the health council and the ministry, but I wish you well.
Dr Sinclair: Thank you. I will take all the good wishes I can get.
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I would like to congratulate you for being suggested to sit on a committee that I believe only masochists would want to sit on, but as I view the appointment list, I see that you are a person with a great deal of dedication and zeal to try to make a better situation from a given set of parameters.
Let me present to you a very, I guess, hypothetical situation, but one that I think will be reality as you start your work. Let me lay out a scenario whereby you have a DHC offering a set of recommendations or suggestions for restructuring, that, by and large, is being accepted by the majority of the stakeholders in a particular region or city. For some reason, it's not what the minister's staff feel should take place. Given that you have these two points of view, and given that you're in a very awkward situation because you're going to be appointed by the minister but, I think as you've said in your earlier answer to Mr Crozier, responsible to those people, those stakeholders in the community, what's going to be the determining factors in making your suggestions with regard to restructuring -- in generalities, obviously, because you can't speak about specifics?
Dr Sinclair: I've thought a lot about that, and I've been reassured by the words in the legislation that set up the commission that the commission is genuinely at arm's length from the government. It has a life of its own. I referred earlier to our fiduciary responsibility, the fact that we will be incorporated, to make our own decisions and we will do that.
The work of the commission primarily will be twofold. One is to conduct the analysis necessary so that our decisions, which is the second job, rest on what we consider, ourselves, to be the best possible restructuring, if that's the recommendation, for a given area or region.
So we will make our own decisions, and I've spoken with every member of the commission who's been appointed, personally, on the telephone, and I think I can speak for the commission in that respect. We will not be answerable in terms of the quality of decision to anybody, in the first instance, other than the commission. Then I will report on the results of the commission's deliberation and decision to the minister. But we will make our own decision.
Your hypothesis is one that you could answer in 100 different ways. It's a question of: What's the most sensible decision, given that set of advice? How firm is the platform? How complete is the information? Does it mean that the acceptance of the DHC's set of recommendations by the stakeholders means that the capital cost of implementation exceeds by far that that could be reasonably available, and that's why the ministry sees another set?
Those are the kinds of things we're going to have to balance out. I'm under no illusions that the commission will be able to satisfy all of the people all of the time.
Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I'm curious about process. In terms of going about the analysis, can you give us an idea of how that process might work out -- for example, will you be meeting with the DHCs, will you be meeting with hospitals? I think there's going to be some pressure probably on you and on the commission to be obviously fair and open-minded about the process. Have you got a clear sense of how that process will take place in terms of getting to a decision?
Dr Sinclair: No, I do not, at present, because, of course, I can really only speak for myself. The commissioners and the commission as a whole have to be quite comfortable with the process so that when they make a decision, they can do so, as I say, with confidence.
I can give you my own speculation at this juncture. You're perfectly correct that we will be asked to receive all kinds of input, colloquially said. In fact, since my appointment was announced, I can show you an in-basket that has been tilting off the corner of my desk, because I still do have what most people consider to be a full-time job.
The commission is charged with working expeditiously and we're going to have to balance the receipt of information from those who would be affected by our decisions against the full knowledge that if we were to engage in as much consultation as people would want, we would be at it for a very long period of time and it would turn into more than a full-time job for every commissioner. So we're going to have to balance that.
The fact is, the DHC process, by direction and inclination, is one that has invited lots of feedback, input, to its decisions. I would see that the primary interaction with the local or regional community would be through the DHCs and would be imbedded in the quality of their advice and recommendations, as they come forward to the commission.
The Vice-Chair: We'll have to move on to the third party, the New Democrat caucus, and Ms Churley.
Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Good morning, Dr Sinclair. It seems as though I'm the lone New Democrat here this morning. Mr Kormos had to run out to another meeting. Perhaps you're lucky that Mr Kormos had to leave the room. I'm a nicer person.
Interjection: We all are.
Ms Churley: We're all lucky.
Interjection: That's on the record.
Ms Churley: That's on the record but Peter won't mind.
Dr Sinclair: If you think I'm going to comment on that -- no.
Ms Churley: No, you don't have to comment on that.
I too, like everybody else, want to comment on your background. I just looked at it and thought, where has he found the time? You must have an enormous amount of energy and commitment.
I appreciate your coming this morning. It was our caucus that asked for you to appear this morning. I wanted to ask you a little bit about how you got this appointment. Did you read an ad, did you express an interest? Let me apologize for not being here for your opening statement. You may have mentioned that, but how did you first hear about it and how did you end up being given this position?
Dr Sinclair: First, may I just make one comment about your comment about finding the time. I have been privileged to have working with me a tremendous group of people who have been assigned a lot of responsibility and they've discharged it very, very well. I have been privileged to do a lot of things but it's largely because of the fact that I have a wonderful group of people with whom to work.
I anticipated the question. I did not apply for this position, nor can I say I'm a conscript, but I was asked if I would consider this. In fact, I was asked three times and twice said that I would consider being a member of the commission but I would prefer not to be considered as chair. About the third time of asking, I did agree to become the chair.
Ms Churley: Who asked you? The minister?
Dr Sinclair: The Deputy Minister of Health.
Ms Churley: Have you met with the minister at any point yet to talk about his vision, his plans?
Dr Sinclair: No, I've not met with the minister per se. I've met with his assistant. I have met with the minister previously but not in relation to the work of this commission.
Ms Churley: I see. So you know the minister from --
Dr Sinclair: Yes. A meeting is scheduled now. Frankly, it would be a much better use of his time and my time because I've now had my mind a little more firmly around what's to be done, but it's still pretty shaky.
Ms Churley: What's your time frame to report to the minister?
Dr Sinclair: The commission has its life of four years, but the expectation clearly written in the legislation and in the terms of reference underpinning it is that we would move very quickly. So I will complete my present responsibilities at the end of June, but I have been spending perhaps half a day a week on the work of the commission now and even that may pick up to the end of June. We will be reporting just as soon as we have something to report, particularly in relation to hospital restructuring, because it's an urgent issue.
Ms Churley: That's what I wanted to come to next. There's certainly an awareness out there that there are going to be some closures. There's some chaos in the system out there now because people don't know what's going to happen, and there are, as I'm sure you are well aware, layoffs happening. For instance, at the Toronto General Hospital, 1,300 workers received notices in March for 128 layoffs. Fifty managers were let go in January. And this is going on throughout the province, in St Peter's hospital, Parry Sound hospital, and I can go on and on.
There's just a lot of fear and anxiety because people -- unfortunately, because you haven't done your work yet, there's an awareness that there are going to be closures, but people don't know what's happening. That's why I asked if you'd had a chance to talk to the minister to have any kind of understanding about the time frame, his vision here. Do you have any idea of what we might do, what you might do, in the meantime to quell some of the anxieties out there? Will you be talking directly to any of these hospitals?
Dr Sinclair: I have a lot of invitations to speak already.
Ms Churley: I'm sure.
Dr Sinclair: Unfortunately, I'm very restricted in the time that I have available to the end of June, so I will not personally be able to do that, although one of my colleagues now who I have asked to act on my behalf until the end of June as the representative in Toronto, Dr David Naylor, will be doing some speaking to the degree he's available.
As I said previously, it is very apparent that the hospital system is going to be approximately 20% smaller in financial terms over the course of the next three years, and it is already smaller than it was three years ago and five years ago. That's not necessarily a bad thing in terms of the availability of service in relation to money spent, because there are data from many other jurisdictions that can demonstrate that there are efficiencies to be gained and effectiveness to be gained out of the hospital system in Ontario. That's been known for a long while.
The insecurity -- hospitals employ people. Frankly, over 70% of the expenditures in most hospitals are reflected in the wages and salaries of people. Like you, and I think like all of us, we are very concerned. I am very concerned about the impact of unemployment on health generally. It will put stresses and strains on the health system because not having something useful to do is very bad for your health. But we also know we can't proceed with the kind of increasing public expenditures that we have had over many years, again referenced to our grandchildren.
So we have a real problem, and I believe the health services commission can help to resolve that problem in making quick decisions based on as good information as we can put together. But frankly, I've been told by many people, and I share their opinion, that right now even a bad decision is better than no decision. That's what the commission, I believe, is charged to do. I'm very concerned that we not make bad decisions.
Ms Churley: Yes, I was going to jump on that because I'm sure the government members, as soon as the recommendations start coming in, will -- this is going to be a very, very difficult political issue, as I'm sure you're well aware. When we were the government and we started the DHC process, which you talked about, and started to close down beds, even that was very, very emotional and politically very difficult.
I just wanted to ask you -- and this is not meant in any way to insult your integrity. It's just that, the nature of the game, this one is going to be very, very rough and some members are going to hear about a hospital closing in their riding and they're going to get hell. It's a very tough thing to go through. I'm wondering, have you thought about how you're going to deal with pressures coming from not just the government side, from any politicians, but obviously you're appointed by this government. I'm just wondering, you feel very independent, how you would deal with it if that pressure is exerted on you. If indeed there are holes -- that's why I jumped on the "bad" decision -- in the decision-making, then it makes it that much easier to put pressure on you to change your mind about some of your recommendations.
Dr Sinclair: I don't think any of the other commissioners, and certainly I am under no illusion that there will not be what you describe as political pressure. Indeed, I mentioned the correspondence I have on the corner of my desk which relates to that already. I know that.
However, the commission is established as an independent body and we will rest -- at least I will rest, and I believe the other commissioners will be comfortable with that when we've had a chance to meet -- our decision on the quality of the information we have, the extent of the information we have, and the thoroughness of our analysis of it, so that what we will decide, I can assure you, will make sense. It will make sense to those who are prepared to look objectively at the evidence, and we'll operate as openly as we possibly can.
I appreciate that not everybody will be pleased by the outcome, but I can assure you that the decisions made by the commission, if I have anything to do with it, will be made as independently as possible of lobbying, they will be based as firmly as possible on the good sense that comes out of the data and information available to the commission, and they will be made as expeditiously as possible, the "as possible" being defined by how confident we are in the platform on which we're basing our decision.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We appreciate you coming before us today. Your being here has been helpful and we wish you luck.
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Sharon Rosenfeldt, intended appointee as member, Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
The Chair: Next up will be Sharon Rosenfeldt, intended appointee as member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Thank you for coming this morning. I believe you are going to begin by making a short statement.
Mrs Sharon Rosenfeldt: I would like to do that. As you're all aware, my name is Sharon Rosenfeldt. I'll just do a little bit of a background on where I'm coming from. I was born and raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I'm married, the mother of three children.
I heard about the possibility of this position becoming available to be a part-time member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. I found out about it by Mr Scott Newark, who is the executive director of the Canadian Police Association, whom we work quite closely with. Of course, this interested me to quite an extent, basically I guess twofold:
(1) The perspective I'm coming from is I am a victim of crime, that being the parent of a child that was abducted and murdered in 1981 by Clifford Olson in Vancouver.
(2) My experience in dealing with victims of violent crime in the last 14 1/2 years. Since then, I was quite instrumental in reaching out -- why I did it, I don't know; it just happened -- to some of the families in our own particular set of circumstances, because there were 10 other families besides ourselves. We formed a small group at that time and three years later disbanded. We moved on to Edmonton, Alberta, and that's where I became involved in victims' issues, because back then there weren't too many services for victims. However, there was crimes compensation in different provinces.
Basically, what I feel is that if I can be of any benefit to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board through my own experience and also working with many victims of crime, that's what I would like to do. That brings me to why I am before you today. Hopefully I can answer any questions.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much. We'll begin that process with the Liberal caucus.
Mr Gravelle: Good morning, Mrs Rosenfeldt. How are you?
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Fine, thank you.
Mr Gravelle: It's very, very clear from your résumé and from your remarks that you are more than qualified for this position and will obviously bring a remarkable degree of sensitivity to an agency that really, really I think requires, if there's one top quality, sensitivity.
Having said that, you're also bound by the regulations in terms of what can be provided to people in terms of the compensation itself. You've had some time, I presume, to look into what the aspects of the board are that you understand and want to deal with. I'm just curious as to things like the amount of time it takes, for example, to deal with cases. That's probably the key issue. Certainly I know that in my case I'm dealing with a constituent who has recently appeared before the board and I understand from dealing with her and dealing with others how incredibly difficult the process is itself, but also how great the need is and how much this experience affects their lives.
What would you like to see in terms of improving the system, improving the timing? Have you got some thoughts in terms of that? Because the turnaround time obviously can be very, very difficult.
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Yes, I have had an opportunity to go through as much of the information as I could. I also have some concerns, but until I actually am able to make a more informed decision or even have some ideas, be able to put forth some ideas, I have to basically have a better understanding of the inner workings of the board as it sits today. There are a number of people who are already on the board.
Why there's a backlog, there could be all kinds of reasons. Has violent crime risen? Are people more in tune today as to what services are available? A number of years ago there were a lot of people who didn't even know the criminal injuries compensation existed. So it's a lot different story today. The issues are being addressed a little bit more today. I just have a difficult time in being able to specifically answer, what would I do? I certainly don't have all the answers but I do believe, with my knowledge, that I may be able to, hopefully, be of some asset to try to answer some of these questions in the future.
Mr Gravelle: In circumstances such as when people come before the board, obviously it seems strange, if not impossible, to put dollar figures on situations in terms of what has happened to families. Having said that, there are dollar figures that are set. Have you had an opportunity to think in terms of whether those are appropriate, too low? Again, it's a question I almost feel embarrassed asking because you certainly can't put a financial figure on how it affects people's lives.
Mrs Rosenfeldt: You've answered that yourself. That is true. It is very, very difficult to be able to put a financial figure on the loss of a body part, the loss of a life of a loved one. There isn't any amount of compensation that would ever adequately -- I know for myself, just give me my son back. I don't want any money, so to speak.
Having said that, I do recognize, though, that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board certainly wants to be responsive to the victim and to the needs of the victim and therefore it's very difficult to put a set figure. I know there is a little bit of disparity because basically all victims of crime, no matter if they're a victim of a sexual assault or a homicide, every victim responds differently. I may return to work within two weeks or two months. There may be other victims that just cannot return to work for whatever reason. I think it all has to be basically looked at more or less on an individual basis, as I understand that it is doing today.
Mr Gravelle: I think we're very lucky to have someone with your qualification and sensitivity, certainly, putting your name forward for this board. Obviously, the work you've done in your professional life and private life is extraordinary, so I certainly applaud that. Do my colleagues have any other questions?
The Vice-Chair: If not, then we'll move on to the New Democrat caucus and Ms Churley.
Ms Churley: Good morning Mrs Rosenfeldt. Thank you for coming down this morning to talk to us. I actually don't have any questions. I looked at your resume and wondered at first why you were even asked to come down, it's so very clear that you are well-qualified for this position. I'm glad you did because, having the opportunity to meet you -- I've certainly heard of your group and congratulate you and thank you for all the work you were able to do as the result of a terrible tragedy in your life. I'm very pleased to have met you today. I want to congratulate the government for finding you and -- I don't often do this, you know -- congratulate the government for putting you in this position and I look forward to you working with us over the next several years. Thanks for coming.
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Once again, I join Ms Churley in expressing appreciation for your interest in serving on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. One of the problems that's recurred with the board is the speed with which matters are heard, which may well become worsened in terms of the delay because of the restrictions in terms of resources available to the board.
The second issue that's been raised before the board often is the fact that the perpetrator has a right to participate in the hearing. The board is accommodating the victims in that regard, but sometimes not as satisfactorily as need be. The whole fact is that a whole lot of victims simply are incapable of being confronted once again by the perpetrator.
The third one is that the board has a right to seek compensation for the compensation it pays out, but to seek indemnification from the perpetrator -- and acknowledging that a large number of perpetrators are impecunious, or at least appear to be, have you got any thoughts about ways in which the board might pursue indemnification by the perpetrator? In other words, as it stands now, the taxpayer's dollars -- and again, not inappropriately so -- are compensating victims of crime. Again, appreciating that most victims of crime can never be compensated, at the end of the day, there is no justice for the victim.
I used to practice criminal law, and even having done that I'm perhaps even more sensitive to the fact that there's no justice for the victim. No jail sentence, no amount of money eliminates or takes away, again, the incredible and unimaginable trauma of victimization. Have you given any thought to the process of getting indemnification from the wrongdoer in perhaps creative ways -- notwithstanding if the legislation may not permit it now -- but creative ways in which that might done?
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Yes. I've given a little bit of thought to it. However, I know that with the new Victim's Bill of Rights that is going to be implemented in the province of Ontario or that is implemented, that particular question, hopefully, will be -- it is addressed in the actual bill, and hopefully it will be able to speed up the process more expediently.
Again, it's very difficult for me to comment on that without having delved into the question itself to any great length and actually talking with the other members who have had an actual experience in working with it, but I'm pretty sure with the new Victims' Bill of Rights that should speed up the process.
Mr Kormos: There's been some criticism of the fact that police officers, who become victims as well by virtue of assaults or physical injury sustained during the course of an arrest, avail themselves of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. What are your views in that regard? Do you have any concerns about that?
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Not really. I don't have that many concerns. Basically, as far as I understand how the act works, it would have to be dealt with on an individual basis and I would have to work within the guidelines of the act. The act specifically says in section 17 that if the police officer is covered under any other type of insurance, that would have to be taken into consideration when and if they do qualify for compensation.
There are offenders who are incarcerated who also apply, and again that would have to be dealt with on an individual basis. So to just look at police officers, I certainly don't have a problem with that.
Mr Kormos: This is my final question to you: There has been, not a consistent but -- I don't know whether there are any lawyers here, or at least Latin students -- a violenti non fit injuria application. That is to say that there has been, from time to time, a reduction in what would have otherwise been the appropriate award by virtue of identifying the victim as having undertaken an assumption of risk. That goes anywhere from being in the wrong place at the wrong time -- in other words, you shouldn't have been in that seedy hotel in that seedy part of town because, if you hadn't been there, you wouldn't have been whacked over the head with the pool cue or the beer bottle.
It's reminiscent of some of the arguments that have been made about victimization of women. Are you aware of the application of that rule, and if you are, have you reflected on it and do you have any views about that?
Mrs Rosenfeldt: I'm sorry, is this a specific case you were talking about, or is it just in general?
Mr Kormos: There are numerous ones.
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Yes, I am aware of cases such as that, but again, basically that is discussed within the guidelines of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act and that definitely has to be taken into consideration. Obviously, on any crime we would hope that there would be a police report, medical report, basically that we could further the information on that. I just believe that because it is covered within the act, we have to work within that framework and take that into consideration.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, ma'am. Best wishes.
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chair: We'll now move on to the government caucus.
Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): I'm going to go back to compensation again, because the bottom line of the whole committee is compensation. Once you take the emotion and everything out of it, the bottom line is compensation. But rather than sound very hard-hearted, I want to tell you a little story first that will put my situation in context and my question in context.
A number of years ago, a car came to a stop street, striking my automobile, injuring my whole family and killing my son. That does not make me a victim of violent crime. My son is just as dead. There were settlements made that took care of my girls and my wife, and they were commensurate with their injuries. But what price, again, as we've all asked, is death? What does it cost to replace your son? There was in my case the suggestion of $500, and a suggestion that this accident had saved me the cost of raising a son. There is no value to your aspirations for your child. There's no value to your own emotional state. There's no question of your aspirations for your child being beyond value.
I was originally going to ask, are the levels, which haven't been changed since 1986, adequate? I stroked out the word "adequate" because nothing will ever be adequate. And I heard the word "appropriate," which I couldn't come up with this morning but my colleague came up with it. Are the levels appropriate? You are saying, and quite rightfully, that each individual is different. Are you saying that there should be no bottom end, no top end, but deal with the individual? Or are you suggesting there should be some caps because there is no dollar figure that can be set, low or high? Do you get the drift of my question? What are we going to do about this?
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Yes, basically I do. Basically, through all the time that I've dealt working with victims of crime, including myself, believe me, when you become a victim you are not looking for a windfall or a cash settlement per se. What you are looking for is basically more immediate response to the situation. By that I mean most -- and if you've had a son who has died -- in a lot of families you're looking at immediate funeral expenses, in a lot of cases you're looking at counselling. I know counselling is running anywhere from $90 to $110 or $130 an hour. There are a lot of families that cannot afford that. However, families can walk into a mental health clinic and stand in line but the thing is --
Mr Preston: Two years.
Mrs Rosenfeldt: That's right -- the victims are not mentally ill. They are emotionally ill for a period of time but they're not mentally ill, and a lot of victims, myself included, have a problem with that. I'm glad there are mental health facilities to look after certain people.
But it's more in the immediate response and I think that's where the criticism, if there is criticism, is coming from: How come it is taking so long, and more so than, "Oh, I only got $20,000 because I was sexually assaulted," or whatever. Most victims aren't looking specifically at a price tag. So I don't know so much if we would look at that as much as how can we better effectively get through the backlog and get the help to the victim when it is needed right from the start.
Mr Ford: Sharon Rosenfeldt, welcome here this morning. I don't know whether you're familiar with this but I'm going to ask you anyway, and if you're not, that's okay too. What is your opinion of Attorney General Charles Harnick's Victims' Bill of Rights, 1995? Are you familiar with it or no?
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Yes, I am.
Mr Ford: Oh, good.
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Yes, I am very familiar with it. Obviously we're very, very pleased that there is a Victims' Bill of Rights. Most provinces do have a victims' bill of rights, short of Alberta, I believe, which I know has it drafted, they've been through all types of -- there've been different presentations. I don't know if it has gone past third reading at this point. But most provinces do have a victims' bill of rights, and the province of Ontario, basically it's a huge province with a lot of people. I was really quite surprised that we didn't have a victims' bill of rights sooner than we did. So needless to say, I have only one position and that is working with victims; of course, I'm very pleased. And I am familiar with the workings of the legislation.
Mr Ford: That's good. I'm not trying to put you on the spot. I just wanted to know if you're a little familiar with it.
Mrs Rosenfeldt: Again, I think in answer to Mr Kormos, in response to his question, I believe that one of the segments of the Victims' Bill of Rights will address that very situation.
Mr Ford: Thank you.
The Vice-Chair: Are there any further questions?
Mr Preston: I have another short one. How do you feel about some of the money in the fund going towards counselling in a women's shelter where it's needed -- and you'll appreciate this question -- rather than going to an individual, going to a central location in a given area where there is counselling needed and it's not available in other facilities? How do you feel about a lump sum going to put the counselling there?
Mrs Rosenfeldt: I'm very much in favour of any services that can be provided by qualified individuals. However, for instance, I'm not into funding for our organization, Victims of Violence. We're a little bit different. Yes, we do provide a service, but that is a little bit different than a counselling service that is set up in, say, a home for battered women. If there is direct counselling involved, definitely I would not have a problem with a direct service. However, if you are an advocacy group or whatever, I would have a problem with funds directly going into that. Services definitely.
The Vice-Chair: If there are no further questions, I want to thank you for coming before us today and assure you that your being here has been very helpful.
Review of intended appointment, selected by third party: Edmund Rockburne, intended appointee as member, Town of Perth Police Services Board.
The Vice-Chair: Next up this morning will be Mr Edmund Rockburne, intended appointee as member, Town of Perth Police Services Board, invited to come before us by the New Democrat caucus. If you have a short statement you'd like to make at the beginning, you're certainly more than welcome to do so. Following that, we'll have a round of questions.
Mr Edmund Rockburne: There are a couple of things I'd like to say, Mr Chairman. One is that I'd like to thank you and all the other ladies and gentlemen on this committee for having me here today. I consider it a good experience.
The other thing is that, as you can probably tell, I'm suffering from a cold. I debated very much about coming today. However, rather than delay this thing and put you people out and have to come back to Toronto, I came. So if I get into a fit of coughing, please forgive me. I'll try and do the best I can.
The other thing I'd like to do is give you a thumb sketch overview of my training and my experiences in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which will give you an opportunity to see that it's been quite broad and that I served in many areas. At the same time, it will give the committee members, probably, a helping hand in knowing what they may like to focus on in their questioning.
I've had 27 1/2 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I retired as a senior NCO. I turned down three commissions so that I could retire early and take other employment. However, with the recessions, one after the other, I ended up staying the full term anyhow. However, I have no regrets.
I have served in provincial policing in Saskatchewan. I have done municipal policing in Saskatchewan as a town policeman under contract with the municipality, similar to what we have in Ontario here.
I have served in national security, everything right up to counterespionage and countersubversion.
I also -- and I don't know, this might ruin my credibility -- was in charge of one shift to protect the Prime Minister and the Governor General. I guess it does make a difference. At any rate, I'll just get past that as quickly as possible.
I was a member of the National Press Club for five years.
I was a bodyguard for Mr Trudeau for a while.
I also was the editor for the RCMP Quarterly, which has a circulation of 20,000.
Back in the 1970s, you may recall, the RCMP had some turmoil break out. The members, the rank and file were getting a little bit disturbed at the fact that everybody else had unions and the RCMP did not and we still had to sign all our correspondence, "I remain your humble and obedient servant," which was starting to wear pretty heavy in this day and age when everybody else had moved on and we were still in the horse-and-wagon stage.
Public meetings broke out, and to thwart any formation of a union, the commissioner of that time decided that he would offer the members an in-house association instead of a union if they would give it a try. The RCMP are not aggressive in terms of unions, as you know, and they bought it. This meant that every division would have an opportunity to elect one representative who would go to the commissioner and to the Solicitor General and to all the senior brass and bring the welfare and dignity and causes and anything that's bothering the members to the attention of the appropriate people. We had no strike force or anything. It was a matter of communication; that was it.
I was one of the originals elected. There were 13 of us who represented the 60,000 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada. In doing that, we had to set up the whole system of staff relations. I sat on boards on everything from negotiation for operational equipment to grievances, transfers, promotions etc. As a matter of fact, it was so broad that I did just about everything. It led me to this day. I have my own home and right now I'm operating a small business on conciliation and arbitration. So I'm impartial.
I don't know whether I should go on because I've been accused of being verbose in the past. I think I'll let you people get on. You can let go and fire away as you see fit. I thank you for being patient.
The Vice-Chair: We'll start this round of questioning with the New Democrat caucus and Ms Churley.
Ms Churley: Welcome this morning. I think you're the first out of all the appointees we've had who's from the RCMP. My brother is in the RCMP and has been for a number of years now. I just thought I'd tell you that because I think most of my Tory colleagues think the NDP just has nothing to do with police, but I'm very proud of my brother, who's been in the RCMP for over 20 years now. Great institution, I would say.
I wanted to ask you how you heard about this position.
Mr Rockburne: I have been volunteering my services to the police services board and other community services in Perth since arriving there six years ago. This was because I like to keep in touch and to help whenever I can; that's my nature. I did a major study as well. When there were going to be some changes to the board, the chair of the board asked me to submit my application. I did so. At the same time, almost simultaneously, it was publicized in the paper asking for applicants.
Ms Churley: Then you applied and you went through the system here at Queen's Park?
Mr Rockburne: Yes.
Ms Churley: When you were asked to take this appointment, did you meet with the minister or any of the minister's staff to talk about the position?
Mr Rockburne: No. The only contact I had was by telephone in terms of questioning some of my credentials.
Ms Churley: Which I'm not at all questioning here. What do you know about the existing police services board? There are a number of appointments that have come up and you're one of the new ones. Do you know anything else about the makeup of the board, how many people are on it, who they are?
Mr Rockburne: Yes. I understand there are five people on the Perth Police Services Board. It doesn't require five, but I think that at the request of the town council they expanded it.
Ms Churley: Is it mostly new members? Have there been several replacements recently?
Mr Rockburne: To be honest with you, I was under the understanding that the new members of the board would be picked by the end of January and I had given up on it because, as you can see, it was extended. I thought, "Well, I offered my services and they found somebody who's probably more qualified." I haven't been following it closely because I'm a director of several other organizations as well.
Ms Churley: That's okay. You don't know personally then the makeup of the board -- how many males, how many females, what that balance is?
Mr Rockburne: I don't know the new appointments. If there's anybody else been appointed, I don't know them. I heard a rumour that there had been one other appointment, but that's just a rumour.
Ms Churley: That's fine. Obviously I should have done my homework before I came in. I had been made aware by some people in Perth, and this has no reflection on you, that a lot of women -- and this has been happening with this government, as you may have heard, in Ottawa and other areas -- with particular kinds of backgrounds, victims of sexual assaults and those areas, have been replaced by, in many cases, well-qualified men; in your case certainly so, but in many other cases not so.
Mr Rockburne: I've been assaulted too.
Ms Churley: I'm talking about particular victims of sexual assault and spousal abuse.
Mr Rockburne: I know.
Ms Churley: But obviously you've been appointed and that has nothing to do with you; that has to do with the government's choice of appointees.
Mr Rockburne: Could I just back up here for a second?
Ms Churley: Sure, absolutely.
Mr Rockburne: I am aware of one woman who's on that board. She was the one who asked me to make the application and she was the previous chair.
Ms Churley: And that chair is still the chair of the board?
Mr Rockburne: I don't believe she is. There's another woman, as a matter of fact, because Janet called me and told me that the mayor took it.
Ms Churley: The mayor took it?
Mr Rockburne: Again, this is hearsay, so don't --
Ms Churley: Okay, we'll just get off that.
Mr Rockburne: Now that you've pierced my armour, there are at least two women on the board.
Ms Churley: Well, that's good. I'm glad to hear that and I appreciate your coming down today and answering my questions.
The Vice-Chair: If there are no further questions from the New Democrat caucus, then we'll move on to the government caucus.
Mr Leadston: I wish we had more time. Having served in the police service for a number of years, you and I could share some, as they say, war stories. I had the distinct pleasure one time of guarding former Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau. We could share some interesting stories, I'm sure.
Your background in police service and certainly in the community that you represent is quite admirable. Obviously you have a sense of your community, you have an involvement in your community; for example, in the Crime Stoppers area. What do you feel is the most pressing need in the Perth area in terms of police services? Is there one aspect of police services that should be given prominence in the community, or a number of areas?
Mr Rockburne: I have a number of ideas and I'm a bit of a social scientist by hobby. But one area that worries me is the amount of violence in youth. In small towns we have an awful lot of young people who do nothing but hang around poolrooms; there's nowhere else for them to go or things to do. I would like to maybe get into making some kind of communication with that group -- like I did in the study with the elderly in Perth, where I went out and did a survey, one on one, after doing about a month of research to make sure that I was going to get the proper database -- and talk to these kids and see where they fit in, where they see themselves fitting in, see what can be done. I consider this as part of the prevention that sometimes doesn't look like prevention. It doesn't take on the usual guise of bars and things like that, but society. Prevention is getting out with the people and preventing that.
Mr Bert Johnson: I want to ask you, Mr Rockburne, how you feel that the police services board can assist in the community-oriented police services.
Mr Rockburne: I see the board as having to work in conjunction with the chief, with the policies that are being handed down by the government, working hand in hand there. Again, I think you have to go to the community and obtain their cooperation and also their awareness, because without the community there's nothing. We're reaching very tough times, and everybody has to play their role.
The Vice-Chair: Any further questions from the government caucus? You have about two minutes left.
Mr Bob Wood (London South): We'll reserve just in case.
The Vice-Chair: Then we'll move on to the Liberals.
Mr Bartolucci: Good morning. I read your résumé, and it's very impressive. Certainly you have an extensive background in policing, there's no question about that, and I commend you for it. I too have relatives -- it isn't a brother or sister but they're relatives -- in the RCMP and I too, like Mr Leadston, have a bit of a background in policing as I was a member of a police services board in Sudbury. I'm very interested that you take such an active role in your retirement with regard to trying to find out the opinions of police officers, as you did in 1993. Let me base some of my questions on your findings.
When you were talking to the police about their concerns, did they express any concerns to you with regard to the police services complaints committee as opposed to the one that was in place earlier on in the 1990s with regard to local boards having jurisdiction over complaints? Did any of them talk to you about that?
Mr Rockburne: I don't think I'd be in a position to answer that for the reason, sir, that I was asked to help prepare the questions for that survey. I didn't actually participate in the questionnaire. That was done by other members of the board.
Mr Bartolucci: That's fair. When you said you carried out a major study on the policing and security needs and wishes of the people of Perth, I thought --
Mr Rockburne: This would be the elderly. That was the specific request put to me by the council and by the police services board. I would like to extend that to other areas, like I mentioned earlier, because I think that society is made up of many groups, and then the way they interact with each other, demographics tell you, can make you either reactive or proactive. I prefer to be proactive.
Mr Bartolucci: So you didn't, in your proactive stand, talk to any of the police in person?
Mr Rockburne: I wasn't requested to and I don't like to put my feet where I'm not asked to do so.
Mr Bartolucci: Give me your personal opinion then, because you've got such an extensive background in it.
Mr Rockburne: I can't tell what the RCMP's feeling.
Mr Bartolucci: No. Actually, I'm asking for your personal opinion.
Mr Rockburne: Well, from Perth and from the municipalities I have heard nothing. I didn't ask, and to be honest with you, I never even thought about it because I wasn't doing any study in that regard. I was just helping sort out questions of morale and things like that. Obviously that question would've been a good one on there, and this is why it's very important when you do your research to talk to the target group and ask them questions as to areas they feel are important and they'd like to discuss. That's why when you make out a lot of these surveys, you always leave "Others" at the bottom, and that usually becomes your largest area.
Mr Bartolucci: I would suggest, after you get this appointment, that you do spend some time talking to the police officers in Perth, because I'm sure their opinions will reflect the opinions of most police officers in Ontario who are upset that they're put through a long waiting list for frivolous complaints.
Secondly, with regard to the structure of the board, in your discussions with the mayor or any other elected official, have they expressed concerns with regard to the way police services boards are selected? And I'm talking about numbers. Yours is a police services board of five. Obviously there are three appointees from the province and two at the municipal or town level. Have you heard anyone at the town level, elected officials, say that they weren't happy with the way a police services board is structured?
Mr Rockburne: No, I haven't.
Mr Bartolucci: That might be a concern that you're going to be facing as a provincial appointee.
Mr Rockburne: I never heard a complaint like that. As a matter of fact, complaints haven't been directed to me by these people who probably felt, and rightly so, that I wasn't an insider at the time. I was just offering my services as a consultant.
Mr Bartolucci: Probably a third question is with regard to funding. There is a good résumé as to how it works in Perth, and basically it's the way it works in most municipalities or in most cities. Do you feel that that is a fair way of deciding how funding takes place? Are you familiar with it, or should I just outline it very briefly?
Mr Rockburne: I understand, according to the act, sir, that the municipality has to pick up the cost for the police services board.
Mr Bartolucci: Yes, but when there is a discrepancy as to what the police board is recommending and what the town council or the city or the regional government decides the funding level should be, there is an appeals process. Do you think that that appeals process is a fair appeals process to the municipality?
Mr Rockburne: I can only relate to other organizations and structures and it seems to me that one would have to think pretty long and hard to see how you could come up with anything that's going to be satisfactory to somebody when you're telling them how to spend their money. If they're not satisfied with that, someone's got to break the tie. The provincial government also has transfer payments there so that all parties have a stake in this. I haven't given it great study but it seems to me it's in line with accepted practice throughout our society.
Mr Bartolucci: You may find after you become a police services board member your other two appointees at the municipal level don't agree with you.
One final question: Are you satisfied with the level of funding for police services in the town of Perth?
Mr Rockburne: I don't know what the funding is, sir.
Mr Bartolucci: All right. Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chair: Any further questions from the Liberal caucus? Mr Gravelle? No. In that case, that ends our round of questioning. I want to thank you for coming today before us and I want to assure you that your being here has been helpful to us.
Mr Rockburne: Thank you and I thank the committee members.
The Vice-Chair: Good luck in your future endeavours.
That brings us to the point in this proceeding when we will entertain concurrence on the three appointees that we've had in front of us today. So if somebody wanted to table a motion.
Mr Bob Wood: I will move concurrence in the intended appointment of Duncan Sinclair.
The Vice-Chair: Concurrence on Mr Sinclair has been moved. Any comment on that? If no comment, all those in favour, please raise their hand. All those opposed? Carried.
Mr Bob Wood: I move concurrence on the intended appointment of Sharon Rosenfeldt.
The Vice-Chair: Any comment on that motion? If not, we will entertain a vote. All those in favour of the appointment of Mrs Rosenfeldt will raise their hand. All those opposed? Carried.
Mr Bob Wood: I move concurrence on the intended appointment of Edmund Rockburne.
The Vice-Chair: It's been duly moved. Any comment? Mr Kormos and then Mr Bartolucci.
Mr Kormos: One of the problems here is that we have people presented to this committee, and I appreciate the committee's mandate is restricted by the rules, but we don't know who the field is. We don't know who the other applicants were. In the case of this intended appointment in and of itself, he has an extensive background in policing, which warrants some comment, extensive background in policing, relatively new to the Perth area, indicating that he retired there in 1991 but none the less has immersed himself in the community very aggressively, to his credit. Again, I'm not in any way, shape or form doubting that he's going to be a responsible, certainly ethical, and integrous which accompanies ethics I suppose, member of the police services board.
What's interesting, though, and I do want to comment on, is that historically, as you know or ought to know, there was a tendency to put retired chiefs of police, oftentimes local judges, district court, county court judges inevitably on the police commissions, as they were in those days. That was certainly problematic, and again, not to suggest that anybody did anything other than the most ethical thing, but it risked the appearance of there not being some independence of the board from the policing itself. So I suppose I do have a little concern.
Notwithstanding that I appreciate a policing background can contribute to the operation of the board, I am also concerned about the fact that, especially a person who has held such senior positions as this candidate has -- again there's no way of testing it, there's no amount of questioning that can predict it or anticipate it, Chair, but the fact that a person who was in a supervisory position as a police officer may have almost an inclination or a natural tendency to want to be a police supervisor, I don't think there's any disagreement with that.
Obviously, there has been historically as well, and not just with police services boards but with any other number of types of boards, the tendency for, let's say, the executive director to co-opt the board. The board relinquishes its authority to the executive director. In the case of police services boards, oftentimes it's been the police chief who has co-opted the board, who in effect is doing what has to be done and the board simply rubber-stamps it.
I recall the legislation that created police services boards. I was here at the time when the Liberal government of 1987-90 implemented this new legislation, and there was an attempt, which I appreciate, to make police services boards more accountable and more responsible in their precise function and, again, to delineate the function of policing from the function of a police services board.
The reason I raise these things is because -- again I have no quarrel with Mr Sinclair per se but I have some concerns about the appointment of a senior police officer to a police services board and some of the difficulties that creates. But we don't know who the other candidates were, and I'm not being critical of anybody here, certainly not the committee members. But what that does is prevent us from saying that, notwithstanding that Mr Sinclair is a good appointment in my view, subject to the caveats that I make, was there any competition for the position and who was that competition? I appreciate the rules may not at present allow us to call upon the government for that information, but it would certainly be something worth --
Ms Churley: It's Rockburne, not Sinclair.
Mr Kormos: I'm sorry?
Ms Churley: Oh, you're talking about --
Mr Kormos: Yes, I'm talking about the police services board appointment.
Ms Churley: You keep calling him Mr Sinclair.
Mr Kormos: Because he looks like Mr -- Rockburne, Sinclair --
Ms Churley: Keep going.
Mr Kormos: Chair, those Anglo-Saxon names all sound alike to me with a background like I have. My apologies to both Mr Sinclair and Mr Rockburne. A name like Bartolucci speaks volumes to me, but Rockburne, Sinclair, White, Smith -- in any event, my apologies to Mr Sinclair and Mr Rockburne. But it would be interesting to be able to see who the other applicants were in any given circumstance. Those are my comments with respect to Mr Rockburne, sir.
The Vice-Chair: Next we have Mr Bartolucci and then Ms Churley.
Mr Bartolucci: My comments are going to be very brief. I'm not going to support the recommendation. Although I think he's very experienced from a policing point of view and ultimately he'll probably be very open and try to establish a position on something because he'll have to once he becomes a police services board member, it's critical for any appointee who comes before us, as the two previous appointees, to be very familiar with the enormity and the importance of the task they're about to undertake. I think clearly there is a very good comparison today between the first two and the third person.
Clearly, although he's a very nice individual, I'm sure, and a very competent policeman for the RCMP and retired and works with retired, superannuated RCMP officers, I suggest to you that he has a limited knowledge of what the makeup of a police services board is: the importance, especially in these critical times, of dealing with budgets and funding levels, the importance of structure, the importance of grave and very serious police issues that have to be addressed with police officers. I would suggest to you, although the background is good in policing, I'm afraid that he presents himself as a person who would not be as effective a board member as I think we would want at this point in time, given the limitations that are going to be placed on municipalities in making decisions regarding police and safety. So I will not be supporting the recommendation.
Ms Churley: I recognize that when I'm here I'm subbing for Mr Laughren, but this is an area that I have great interest in and great concerns about, what the government is doing in replacing some very good people on police services boards. I asked the committee some time ago, and it was adopted by the committee as well, that we ask the Solicitor General to provide this committee with a list of all police services boards across the province, who is on them, who has been removed and who is getting reappointed. I presume we don't have these lists yet.
It's difficult for me here today to know for sure what's happening in Perth. I do know it wasn't up to Mr Rockburne to answer those questions; I realize that it's not his responsibility to look at whom he is replacing and who else has been appointed. That's fine, but I was hoping he'd have the information because I was told -- I don't have this confirmed -- that similar things were happening in Perth as in Ottawa and other areas where, as far as I know, people weren't being removed before their terms were up, but I had been told that some very good female appointments with particular expertise in domestic and spousal abuse and sexual assault were being replaced by men who have absolutely no background in those areas. Again, I can't confirm that today about Perth, but I can tell you that --
Mr Bert Johnson: Who does the assaults if the men aren't there? That's the other side of it.
Ms Churley: Yes. There was some kind of weird comment from the government benches here about who does the assaults if the men aren't there. I don't quite know what was meant by that. I raise this because if people have been -- I don't understand why some government members are smiling and joking about this.
Mr Ford: I'm not joking. It is a very serious matter.
Ms Churley: If members of the government have been reading the Star over the past week, the horrific accounts of the kinds of domestic abuse, of women primarily by spouses and partners -- stalking, serious abuse, hospitalizations, some of it being carried out in front of children, and the horrific stories -- I don't know if people here read those stories, but it really was quite shocking to see that in many cases the charges were being dropped because the spouse, the person who was abused, for a variety of reasons did not want or often was coerced by the partner or was afraid or felt she loved this person and wanted to try again, whatever, backed off from carrying through with the charges. It became very clear that our system is not working for these people.
Even before these stories were in the Star last week, every time I sit on this committee I raise this as a very important issue for police services boards. It is absolutely crucial, particularly now. My position on this has been vindicated. We have some very serious problems with sexual and domestic and spousal abuse within our society.
Our government, when we were in office, took that very much into account as we appointed people to police services boards. It became a criterion not for everybody to have that kind of background, but we deliberately went out into communities and sought out people who had experience or were working directly with victims of assault or had some kind of expertise in that area so that there would be a sensitivity on community police services boards to those particular issues, because if we don't have that sensitivity on the local community police services board, we are going to have a problem. As was outlined recently in the Star, this is a problem that all levels of government, police services boards, citizens, schools, we as a society have to take into account.
With that kind of background and caveat about why I'm really concerned when I asked Mr Rockburne a question and mentioned my concerns about needing people with some expertise and sensitivity to these issues, he looked at me and said, "I have been assaulted too." I'm sure many people are, but as far as I'm concerned, I was trying to point to a particular, very sensitive problem within our society that is often, for a variety of reasons, swept under the rug, not dealt with. I felt that his answer was insensitive and he didn't seem to pick up on the fact that I was getting to a particular area of great concern, I'd like to think, to everybody in this room.
I'd feel a little more comfortable, as my colleague Mr Kormos said, if I knew who else was appointed to the police services board in Perth. I don't know, but I have grave concerns that the same thing is happening there as in Ottawa and in other areas, that some women with background in these areas are being removed as their terms are up, or perhaps as in Ottawa, removed before their terms are up, without just cause, and replaced by men who may have a lot of integrity and may have a lot of expertise in particular areas but have no knowledge, no sensitivity to this particular area.
I would ask again if you have any information, Mr Chair, about whether the Solicitor General has yet provided those lists from police services boards across the province. I really think we need that. It will help us, as these people come before us, to make assessments as to the makeup and balance of expertise on these community boards.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Ford, you're up next. I just wanted to say that we haven't yet received anything from the Solicitor General's office as to the makeup of police services boards as they are now being restructured or appointments are being dismissed and new appointments being made. I'm wondering if there's any indication as to when we might get that.
Mr Bob Wood: I wonder if we could ask the clerk to find out what the status of that is with the minister's office and she could perhaps report back to the next meeting.
The Vice-Chair: Okay, because it is a question that has been on the table for some time now and I think it would be helpful if we were to be able to get that. I'm going to allow Mr Ford and then we'll go back to Mr Kormos.
Mr Ford: I'm listening to the conversations here, listening to the people on both sides of the floor here, but realize one thing: Mr Rockburne was a member of a national police force, encompassing all of Canada, all the various problems on the national force, male and female, not just male members.
Consider this: On a national police force, if you understand how it works, it doesn't work with one small detachment that stays in one spot for 27 years. It's like living with the army. They're constantly moving back and forth, being transferred constantly, and this gentleman was in charge of 760 in the personnel. We're talking about Perth, Ontario, as concerned with the national thing, and then it becomes international too because people are transferred from Canada to different positions around the world, male and female, because there's a large number of female members to that force -- in security areas, also drug areas, every facet that you can think of in police work.
In small towns, those people may stay in that small police force for 25 years and never move out of that town, whereas this gives it an international and national flavour, when you get somebody with that experience. Not only that, the board doesn't consist of a one-man board. You have several people on that board. I'm in favour of this appointment because of those facts and because of the length in service and because it's a national service and also the number of personnel he was directly responsible for. This is a prime opportunity for that town to get a person with a vast background of experience in all facets of policing.
Mr Preston: Along with the two women who are on the board.
Mr Ford: There are two women on the board already, and working in conjunction with that, I think this is a wonderful opportunity for the town of Perth to receive a person with these credentials in his background. I can carry on and keep pointing out these facts, but if you analyse it yourself, on a national effort, these people are also appointed in the north or out west to very small detachments the size of towns like Perth, they stay there for two or three or five years, they get that local experience and then they transfer to some other place, maybe to Ottawa or Toronto or Montreal, to a large area. So they have all this vast experience. I think it's a tremendous opportunity for Perth to get a person like this. That is my comment.
Mr Bert Johnson: I was one of those who was showing some incredulity when member Churley was talking, because yes, women and sex abuse is a big problem, but I don't think the problem just lies in women in solving it; I think it's a men's problem too. I guess I would have to ask whether, if the applicant had said yes, he was sexually assaulted twice before he was 15 years old, he then would have met her expectations as a victim for it. I am saying that sexual assault is a women's problem but it doesn't have to be just a women's solution.
I did not see any such concern yesterday when there were females being assaulted outside this building. I did not see any sign of that sort of concern yesterday. Thank you.
Ms Churley: I think there's a misunderstanding here about the issue to which I'm referring. Let me clarify. There are two issues here. One is the balance. Hopefully we would all agree that with any of our boards and commissions, we would like to see a fair representation of women and men, whatever their level of expertise is. I think we would all agree on that. So, having agreed on that, I hope --
Mr Preston: Whatever their level of expertise?
Ms Churley: No, I mean, on boards and commissions, you're looking at quite often different -- as in police services boards, you want a balance of expertise. So coming to number two here, I'm not saying that all women on police services boards should be the only ones and should in fact necessarily be the ones with expertise in sexual assaults and in domestic violence. I hope that's clear.
Mr Bert Johnson: It wasn't clear from what you said before.
Ms Churley: Well, I thought it was, and it's been brought up many times in this committee, but let us get that clear now. I believe that there must be a balance of women and men on all boards and commissions, and in fact also reflection of the ethnic mix in our communities. I believe that we all have a responsibility to make sure and seek out people of expertise from all our ethnic minorities and from women and men.
The reason I brought up the fact that women with expertise in these particular areas have been removed and replaced by men is very simple, and it's been pointed out, particularly when we talked about the Ottawa situation, where there have been women, in this case -- and quite honestly, often we don't look for women or men who necessarily have been sexually assaulted or abused in any way themselves. That's not the criterion. The criteria that we were looking for as a government and that we found, and it could be women or men -- it frequently, however, was the case that women generally work more often in those particular kinds of fields. I'm quite certain in fact that there were men on police services boards also with expertise and experience in their worklife or personal lives in these areas.
The point I am making is that we are looking for, number one, a balance between men and women and ethnic groups, and we're also looking for people to sit on the board who have expertise in that area so that it won't be ignored and so that there is a real sensitivity to the community by some people within that board who have expertise and a sensitivity to that particular area.
I hope that makes it very clear that I'm not arguing that everybody on the board should have one particular area of expertise. I believe it's important to have many --
Ms Churley: Well, I was hoping to get Mr Johnson to hear what I was saying here, because it's very clear from his comments --
Mr Ford: We're listening.
Ms Churley: No, Mr Johnson -- that he had a complete misunderstanding of what I was talking about. I think that it trivialized the issue I'm talking about here and that it's urgent that we all pay particular attention, particularly on police services boards, that the kind of balance I outlined a minute ago is adhered to very, very carefully, which is why, again, I really think it's important for the whole committee to have these lists so we can look at the makeup of committees and make sure this particular balance is there and the expertise in different areas of community life is well represented.
Mr Ford: That's clear.
Mr Bartolucci: Just one comment in summation from this party: If you look at Dr Sinclair, you see that there's a background and knowledge. If you look at Ms Rosenfeldt, you see that there's a background and knowledge. If you look at Mr Rockburne, you see that there's a background, but there's no knowledge. He doesn't have a working knowledge of what he's getting into. He hasn't established any type of I guess pre-appointment strategy to try to encompass himself or immerse himself in the degree of information that's going to be necessary for him to be a good appointment.
I would hope that we listen to what Mr Wood said at the very beginning, I think his quote directly, we are not puppets or we are not rubber-stampers. Clearly, you tell me -- and I asked this question once before with regard to a police services board member -- does he have the knowledge that you would want to decide what type of policing takes place in your town, area, region or city? He certainly doesn't have it for the city of Sudbury or the region of Sudbury, and that's why I won't support his appointment to any town, city, area or region.
Mr Ford: This gentleman has been on the grievance boards, he's been in operational problems, and he's dealing with a force of 60,000 people, not 760, and the knowledge that comes from working within a national organization of that stature is constant. It's everyday problems you're handling, and you're dealing with many of the ethnic groups that are not in some of the areas that you're mentioning. They are a national force, very ethnic-oriented. They have male and female employees, and all these grievances and different things encompass female problems, whether they're rapes or whatever they are, assaults. They are constantly with them, every day, day in and day out, and the transfer of people back and forth.
I still believe this person is one of the best people for that type of job. They're getting expertise, whether you believe it or not. This is not a local, little-town issue. This is a national thing. These people are getting the expertise nationally.
If you think that's humorous, it is humorous, because a small town should be very grateful to get somebody with that background and experience. And the man has contributed to the community and has assisted the police board. What other qualifications do you expect from a man of this nature?
Mr Bartolucci: To know something about police services.
Mr Ford: Do I know something about police services? I certainly do.
Mr Bartolucci: That he knows something about police services.
Mr Ford: Yes. Of course.
Mr Bartolucci: You asked a question; I'll give you an answer. He admitted he knows nothing about it in every question I asked him.
Mr Ford: Well, how can he know nothing about it?
Mr Bartolucci: I reserve judgement. I'm not going to answer that. Get serious. Excuse me, Mr Chair, I'm out of order.
The Vice-Chair: Yes, you are.
Mr Ford: He's in charge of a detachment of 760 officers. So if he doesn't know anything, then I -- he's an NCO in Canada's national police.
The Vice-Chair: I've been asked that the question be put by Mr Leadston. Could I now put it to you, is it the will of the committee that the question be put? All those in favour will raise their hand. Okay, we'll put the question.
Mr Kormos: Recorded.
The Vice-Chair: A recorded vote.
Ford, Fox, Bert Johnson, Leadston, Newman, Preston, Ross, Bob Wood.
Bartolucci, Churley, Crozier, Gravelle, Kormos.
The Vice-Chair: The appointment has carried. That completes the concurrence portion.
Mr Crozier: Mr Chair, if I could, just a brief bit of business. If the committee would give unanimous consent, we would like to waive the interview of the intended appointee W. Bryce Walker to the board of governors of Wilfred Laurier University and that the appointment should go ahead and that we would like to have the alternate we had selected, that being a Mr Michael B. Ayoub to the Ontario Film Review Board.
Mr Bob Wood: I might say I have no problem with that.
The Vice-Chair: Okay, unanimous consent then? Thank you very much. It's been agreed on unanimously.
Mr Kormos: Further to this matter of the inquiry of the Solicitor General's ministry about the makeup of police services boards and the depopulation of those boards of women members, you've made a further request today. Would the Chair please undertake that if there is no compliance with that request, another letter be sent out to the Ministry of the Solicitor General indicating that this committee is increasingly frustrated by their unwillingness to cooperate by providing that information, please?
Mr Bob Wood: Mr Chair, a request has gone forward from one of the members for information. Any suggestion that the committee is dissatisfied with its treatment by the Solicitor General is quite inappropriate. That certainly does not reflect the majority of the committee.
The Vice-Chair: If the member is suggesting that we write a letter of that tone and tenor, obviously not acceptable by some members of the committee, maybe you'd like to table a motion to that effect.
Mr Kormos: If the Chair doesn't feel comfortable doing it on its own initiative, I will then move that if a reply is not received to the most recent request, a further letter be sent to the Ministry of the Solicitor General reiterating the request and indicating that this is the second time this request has been formally made, and I am so moving.
The Vice-Chair: I think we can do that. We can certainly --
Mr Bob Wood: I have no problem with that, Mr Chair, as long as there's no hint of dissatisfaction, because there is no dissatisfaction on this side with what the Solicitor General has done.
Ms Churley: As though he's really going to worry too much about a letter from this committee expressing dissatisfaction.
Mr Kormos: It's one of the least of his problems, Bob. Trust me.
The Vice-Chair: I will assure the member that we will check into this, and if we're not getting any action, we will ask why.
Mr Bert Johnson: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: We're asking for a follow-up letter to a letter that had gone before?
The Vice-Chair: Yes. We're experiencing --
Mr Bert Johnson: I didn't get a copy of the letter that went before.
The Vice-Chair: It wasn't a letter, Mr Johnson. It was a request to the Minister of the Solicitor General that some information be forwarded to this committee, and that was quite a while ago. We still haven't received that information, and there is building up a certain degree of frustration on the part of some members on that fact. So we're going to check into it and see what the holdup is and see if we can't have some information as quickly as possible to the committee so that we can --
Mr Bert Johnson: My point is, was it your request? Was it this committee's request? Whose request?
The Vice-Chair: It was a request by the committee.
Mr Bert Johnson: It was not made in writing?
Mr Bob Wood: Mr Chair, it was not a request of the committee. It was a request of one of the members of the committee.
Ms Churley: The committee agreed.
The Vice-Chair: Yes. There was no objection to our asking for that information at that particular point in time, but it was tabled by Ms Churley as a request and we're still waiting for some response.
Mr Bert Johnson: I wanted to have that cleared up. Thank you.
The Vice-Chair: Okay, if there's no further business, that's it for today. We'll see you next week.
The committee adjourned at 1158.